Moving costs money: A look at relocation expenses

by Jenny

Moving is often the result of an exciting change — a job in a distant city, an improvement in financial circumstances, new-found independence, or additons to a growing family. Whatever your reason for moving, congratulations on your fresh start.

There’s so much to consider once you’ve gotten past the excitement of a new move — including the real cost of your relocation. In 2010, the Worldwide Relocation Association reported that the average professional household move cost $12,230. That’s a lot of money for anyone.

I’ve broken down a few costs below so you’re not caught off guard in your next move.

Planning your moving costs

Moving Truck: If you plan on executing the move yourself, truck rental will likely be your biggest expenditure. Moving companies can provide you with a quote based on the size and weight of your household goods and the distance of the move. Moving a three-bedroom house about 2,000 miles, for example, can cost up to $6,000.

If you’re renting a truck (around $1,500 for a similar household/distance), keep in mind the cost of gas (currently about $3.39 per gallon nationally, according to, tolls (28 U.S. states have at least one toll road), and your own time (the average American gets 16 holiday and vacation days each year).

Movers: Professional movers are going to be more efficient than you and your brother-in-law. Sorry, it’s true.

If time is of the essence, you may be better served ponying up for movers rather than buying off your friends and family with pizza and beer. Movers can cost anywhere up to $100 per hour, so be prepared to spend.

The best way to save money with movers? Have everything packed and organized so you don’t get charged for extra hours when loading/unloading.

You don’t want to entrust your life’s possessions on a cross-country (or even crosstown) drive to just anyone. See if your movers are certified by the ProMover program, an American Moving and Storage Association initiative geared towards weeding out “rogue operators” and con artists.

Moving can be expensive, so plan wisely.

All of the things: This is the perfect time to sort out your family’s clothes, toys, household gadgets, and furniture to save the cost of freight weight with your moving truck. Take the time for each family member to sort through their items and consider donating, selling, or storing items.

Self Storage: If it just won’t fit in your new home, consider a storage unit. Storage facilities are a great place to keep sentimental items like your mother’s piano, wedding china, baby clothes, and toys. Specific items that you may not need immediately — sports equipment like surfboards, skis, golf clubs, etc. — can also be stored.

Packing supplies: Boxes, packing tape, labels, and bubble wrap can add up quickly. These items may also be the last cost on your mind before a big move, and then wham — you’re scrambling for more supplies.

Plan ahead — color coded moving labels cost between $7-$8, room-by-room packing kits can be found starting at around $60, and my favorite — a wardrobe box with a hanger bar — can be had for about $50. You can literally transfer your closet in one piece.

Cleaning supplies: You can’t assume that the landlord, realtor, or previous owner of your new home or apartment was as neat and clean as you demand for yourself. Even if you are in a brand-new living space, you can’t be sure what chemicals, compounds, or materials were exposed to surfaces before you were handed the keys.

Invest in eco-friendly cleaning supplies and make the time to get the nooks and crannies scrubbed before fully unpacking.

Moving notices: In a digital world, a little extra effort to communicate the old-fashioned way is always appreciated. Once you’ve settled in, why not take the time to send out a change of address notice to friends? Handmade cards can be purchased on sites like Etsy for as little as $3 a card.

Moving can take a bite out of your pocketbook. Map out your needs, create savings and spending plans, and pull off your move the right way. You’ll appreciate the convenience when it’s time to unpack your new life.


• DIYer, Designer, Declutterer
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